Danger: Couple at Work

I swore I wouldn’t write about consulting done by married couples. It’s a trite discussion, as far as I’m concerned.

But then I read Dilbert on December 12, 1999. The Pointy-Haired Boss hired two new engineers — a couple. The female was the target employee and the male was “brought along for the ride.” The female was competent and the male was incompetent. The female was normal and the male was schizoid.

I guess that’s how most of the world sees couples.

I’ll admit that Dilbert at least turned the scenario and made the woman competent.

The challenge is how to present two people who are otherwise competent, personable, and useful. Can this marriage be promoted?

Can this contract be saved?

I realize that in a large corporation there is a larger issue: power. But let’s face it. My husband and I each own a portion of this consulting firm. I own 51%, since I started the company. (Additionally, I see that women-owned businesses are sometimes favored by those corporations wanting to promote equality.) No two-person business can operate with the independence of two divisions. So, now that we’ve eliminated the nepotism issue, we proceed right back to the real question. Can a married couple work together?

I imagine that the many sitcoms of the fifties and sixties contribute to concern about couples. After all, would Lucy of “I Love Lucy” be able to manage Ricky’s band? Wasn’t Laura always a little at the periphery of Rob’s writing team on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”? Would any good sitcom mom have time to review an operating budget?

Let’s move to the nineties. In fact, let’s not. Though I love “Friends,” I don’t profess to understand how any of them could work together. The characters of “Ally McBeal” seem much too busy to practice law. And they hardly ever have good team interactions.

“Star Trek: Voyager” wanders between Janeway (female) as Captain and Janeway and Chakotay as a potential couple. But “Voyager” stays a few steps from making them a constant team.

So, I don’t see the answer in TV. I remain filled with questions:

  • Should I always work with the other competent men and women I know?
  • Should I always recommend my just-as-competent female and male friends to work with my husband?
  • Or can I just say, “The person who can best do this job with me is my husband, my business partner, and one of the best. I picked him on his merits.”
  • Or isn’t that believable?

OK, that’s off my chest. Let’s carry on with the “real” articles.

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